Original Target of Jersey City Shooting May Have Been Yeshiva Full of Children, Mayor Says

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop believes initial target of the kosher supermarket shooting that killed 4 was 'the 50 children at the Yeshiva attached to that store'

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People work to secure the scene of a shooting at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, N.J. December 11, 2019.
People work to secure the scene of a shooting at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, N.J. December 11, 2019.Credit: Seth Wenig,AP

The original target of Tuesday's deadly attack on a Jersey City kosher supermarket may have been the Jewish school next-door, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop tweeted Friday.

"My opinion is that as more info comes out it’ll become increasingly clear that the target was the 50 children at the Yeshiva attached to that store," Fulop wrote, adding that the doorway to the yeshiva was three feet away, and that it seems that one of the gunmen was initially heading in that direction.

On Thursday, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said authorities believe the attack, which killed four, was “fueled both by anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs,” and that authorities were investigating it as an act of domestic terrorism.

Fulop applauded the announcement, writing on Twitter that each day that passed without labeling the crime as motivated by hate, "diminished the impact of labeling it. All too often people are reluctant to call out hate because they may offend someone else. This was anti-Semitism; this has no place in our community, city, state, country."

The two killers who stormed a kosher market in Jersey City had apparently been followers of the Black Hebrew Israelites — a fringe group whose members have been known to rail against white people and Jews — and one of them had made anti-Semitic posts online, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation.

The attackers were identified as David N. Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50 — both of them also prime suspects in the slaying of a livery driver found dead in a car trunk in nearby Bayonne over the weekend, Grewal said. He noted that officials believe the attackers were acting on their own.

Anderson used a rifle in the grocery attack. The attorney general wouldn't confirm if Graham also had a weapon when she followed Anderson into the market. Several weapons were recovered from the store.

The victims killed in the store were: Mindel Ferencz, 31, who with her husband owned the grocery; 24-year-old Moshe Deutsch, a rabbinical student from Brooklyn who was shopping there; and store employee Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, 49.

The bloodshed in the city of 270,000 people across the Hudson River from New York City began at a graveyard, where Detective Joseph Seals, a 40-year-old member of a unit devoted to taking illegal weapons off the street, was gunned down by the assailants, authorities said. They then drove the van about a mile to the kosher market.

The drawn-out gunbattle with police filled the streets with the sound of high-powered rifle fire, as SWAT officers in full tactical gear swarmed the neighborhood. During the shootout, police used an armored vehicle to ram the store entrance.

The prospect of attacks against Jews weighed heavily on the more than 300 people who attended a vigil Wednesday night at a synagogue about a mile from where the shootings took place.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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